Helter skelter encourages new perspectives

10 August 2019
A 55ft helter skelter has this week sprung up in Norwich Cathedral’s Nave as part of the Seeing It Differently project that aims to give people the chance to experience the Cathedral in an entirely new way and open up conversations about faith.
Norwich Cathedral Seeing It Differently (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (3)

The colourful slide is one of a number of special installations dotted around the Cathedral, and visitors climbing up to have a go on the ride will be treated to unique views of the centuries-old building and its famous medieval roof bosses which tell stories from the Bible and form the largest collection of their kind in the world.

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, and choristers from the Cathedral’s boys’ and girls’ choirs enjoyed the first rides on this rather unusual slide to launch Seeing It Differently on Thursday 8 August.
Norwich Cathedral Seeing It Differently (c) Bill Smith_Norwich Cathedral (2)
The project will run until Sunday 18 August. Alongside taking a ride on the slide, people can also enjoy many other activities, including the chance to lie down and look up at the Cathedral’s incredible ceiling and roof bosses, take part in a trust trail in the Cloisters, and sit inside a Bible box and be completely surrounded by the word of God.

Throughout the whole of the Seeing It Differently project, Norwich Cathedral’s regular rhythm of worship will continue as normal.

Seeing It Differently was the idea of the Revd Canon Andy Bryant, Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care at Norwich Cathedral.

“Amid the regular pattern of our daily worship, we are delighted to offer our visitors a unique experience with the Seeing It Differently project," he said.
“The helter-skelter is an opportunity for some holiday fun but we also hope it will help our visitors get closer to our wonderful medieval roof bosses, which are one of the true gems of the Cathedral and our fine city.
Along with experiencing all the other Seeing It Differently installations, we hope that climbing 40ft above the Nave’s floor on the helter skelter will help people gain a new perspective on this ancient building and also appreciate the importance of seeing things differently; this building, ourselves and our faith.”

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, said: “We hope that this highly unusual installation in the Cathedral will capture the imagination of our visitors and will be enjoyed by people of all ages, along with the many other activities alongside it.”

The helter skelter belongs to Irvin Leisure and construction began in the Cathedral’s Nave at about 8.30am on Tuesday 6 August. A team of four people spent more than 19 hours installing the ride which is made up of more than 1,000 parts held together by about 500 nuts and bolts and decorated in just over 2,000 lights.

Henry Chipperfield, from Irvin Leisure, said: “Norwich Cathedral is definitely one of the most unusual places we have been to. Even though we have been all over the world, as a unique venue the Cathedral is in a category of its own. As far as I know, this is the first time a helter skelter has ever been in a Cathedral.”

Seeing It Differently is at Norwich Cathedral from Thursday 8 August until Sunday 18 August.

The helter skelter ride costs £2 per person. All the other Seeing It Differently installations are free. General opening times for Seeing It Differently will be 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday and 12 noon-3pm on Sundays.

Share how you saw things differently!
People are being encouraged to share their experiences of Seeing It Differently on social media by using the hashtag #SeeingItDifferently and tagging in Norwich Cathedral on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

More about Norwich Cathedral’s roof bosses
Norwich Cathedral is adorned with more than 1,000 stunning medieval roof bosses which display the stories of the Bible from on high. The collection is the largest of its kind in the world. The Cathedral’s Nave features 255 of these historiated bosses, depicting seven Old Testament episodes and seven New Testament episodes.
Norwich Cathedral Nave Bosses – a book featuring photographs by Paul Hurst – is available to buy in the Cathedral’s gift shop.

More about the helter skelter at Norwich Cathedral
Helter skelters date back to the turn of the 19th/20th century and this particular lighthouse-style helter skelter was manufactured in 1947 by Supercar in Warwick. The helter skelter – which is owned by Irvin Leisure - is 55ft high and people can climb up to 40ft. It takes 36 steps to get to the top and the slide is about 46 metres long. Prior to its stay at Norwich Cathedral, the helter skelter has previously been to Hong Kong, Singapore, Holland and many different places across the UK. The helter skelter’s next stop after Norwich Cathedral is a festival in Prague.

Pictures: Bill Smith